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Dáil Éireann debate -
Thursday, 27 Oct 1994

Vol. 446 No. 5

Written Answers. - Maintenance of Non-National Roads.

Andrew Boylan


59 Mr. Boylan asked the Minister for the Environment his views on whether it is equitable that householders living along remote rural roads and laneways have to pay for road repairs while householders living along urban roads, national primary and principal county roads do not; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1760/94]

I presume that the question arises from my request that local authorities should seek to involve local communities in contributing, whether in money or kind, towards the maintenance and improvement of non-national roads in their areas. The experience where pilot schemes have operated since 1992, based on co-operative efforts, has reinforced my view that this approach can make a valuable contribution towards restoring defective roads. Communities in these areas have displayed a willingness to play a role in finding solutions to road problems which affect them. This support can add significantly to the return from public investment in these roads and enable local authorities to undertake more extensive programmes of work than would otherwise be possible. This willingness to participate is now evidenced by waiting lists of applicants wishing to contribute towards road work schemes.

Pilot schemes have established that there is considerable scope to attract community support for road improvement and maintenance programmes for non-national roads generally. Accordingly I have requested all local authorities to investigate the potential to promote and harness community support for road works in their areas and have suggested that a portion of this year's discretionary grant allocation might be reserved for suitable road schemes. I have indicated that these investigations should not be confined to minor rural roads, but should have the widest possible application, including investigation of the scope for support for works in urban areas.
It is a matter for local authorities to determine the conditions and administrative arrangements applied to road schemes undertaken by them with community support, including any requirements concerning payment of a contribution towards the cost of road works and the nature of the activities which might be undertaken by the local community.
On a broader level the practice of payment for services is well established and is fundamental to the ability of local authorities to perform their statutory functions to the standard the public has come to expect and demand. In this context, account should be taken of the fact that this country has a higher mileage of public roads per head of population than many other, and more developed, countries.
The question of applying charges in respect of national roads is appropriate to the National Roads Authority. The authority, at my request, is investigating possibilities in this regard with a view to raising up to £100 million which would be used to accelerate work on upgrading the network of national roads.